Franco Spain and European Defense

December 22, 1951

Report Outline
Shift in United States Policy Toward Spain
Spain as Military Ally: Benefits and Handicaps
Spanish Internal Economic Weaknesses

Shift in United States Policy Toward Spain

Washington is expected to make “concrete proposals” to the Spanish government early in 1952 on United States use of air and naval bases in Spain, A special American military mission has completed preliminary surveys in Spain and the Defense Department is working out final recommendations. Few details on the forthcoming negotiations with Madrid are available, but it is generally believed that any future arrangements will be based on the principle of mutual aid. In return for the use of bases Spain expects to obtain modern equipment for its armed forces and support for the Spanish economy. Congress already has appropriated $100 million for economic, technical, and military aid to Spain—for use when and as the President sees fit.

The negotiations on bases will have far-reaching ramifications for American policy in respect not only to Spain but also to other West European nations. American military officials long have considered Spain strategically important to the general defense of Europe, but the British and French governments have strongly objected to inviting Franco's totalitarian regime to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. For several years the State Department has resisted pressure to include Spain in European cooperation programs contrary to the wishes of other West European nations. However, mounting international tensions and Franco's patent ability to maintain his ruling position in Spain have gradually brought a modification of American policy in the direction of closer relations with Madrid and of bringing Spain into the western defense system.

Franco's Middle Course Between Axis and Allies

Controversy over relations with Spain traces back to Franco's victory in the Spanish civil war with the aid of Hitler and Mussolini and to the Spanish dictator's subsequent alignment with the Axis powers in the Anti-Comintern Pact.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
May 24, 1974  Threatened Spanish Succession
Sep. 18, 1968  Spain and the West
Aug. 12, 1959  Spain and the Free World
Dec. 22, 1951  Franco Spain and European Defense
Oct. 03, 1949  Relations with Spain
Apr. 20, 1945  Spain in Transition
Jan. 26, 1939  Spain's Civil War and the Great Powers
Regional Political Affairs: Europe